By Bren Dubay
“The woman is young — not yet 30. Her name is Clare. While growing up, going to church was like brushing her teeth. No thought of not doing it, it was automatic. Like breathing. Not anymore. Going forward, she would write firmly and boldly one word, four letters, on any form asking for her religion: NONE.”
A Way of Prayer opens with these few sentences and becomes the first booklet in a series of publications we have named Short Writings from Koinonia. Our desire for this series is to spark discussion. We want to share with our readers topics of interest to the community — a glimpse into our life, work, and the many subjects which engage us.
I knew I wanted to write about the life of prayer at Koinonia, the way prayer permeates our day, but it had to be more than a mere schedule of our prayer times. Then Clare, a fictional character, showed up on the page. There is something going on in much of western culture. It has been going on in Europe longer than the U.S. Growing numbers of people do not believe in God. Our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques are emptying. I heard a statistic recently that 7 out of 10 young people in any particular Christian church would leave not only that church, but Christianity as well before they turn twenty.
What is going on and where will it lead?
Clarence Jordan called Koinonia “a demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God.” So many people come to visit. I have always been struck that a good number who do, profess that they no longer believe. They are as welcome to be with us as anyone else who comes.
What do they see?
Clare was welcome to show up on the page I was trying to write.
What did she see? Why did she come? Why do so many “nones” come to Koinonia?
Even as so many in our world reject religion, there is a spiritual hunger, a spiritual longing. A Way of Prayer tells a bit about the environment we attempt to create here to feed the spiritually hungry.
Clare helped me get a fresh glimpse of Koinonia and realize once more the importance of demonstration plots. I don’t think people are looking for perfection. That’s certainly not what they’ll find here. Perhaps it is not God people are rejecting, but inauthenticity.
I hope for authenticity. I hope for all those who come walk our land, share our food, join in song and do some work with us to see authenticity in our life here.
I hope you will want to read A Way of Prayer and all of the short writings to follow. They are an invitation to learn not only more about this community’s life and the many topics that engage us, but to continue or begin a conversation.